One woman’s quest to make sense of a nonsensical world after losing her dream home and all her worldly possessions to a raging and sudden wildfire. Exploring the existence of God, our cultural discomfort with grief, what it means to be human as well as life in a 1967 Airstream trailer, Kristen Moeller shares her humanity, her spirit and her dark edge openly for herself as well as for the countless others who beg to be heard in their wild journey through this wacky world.
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A Bubble off Plumb

Posted on: 10 Comments

All good things must come to an end. Not just good things, ALL things – good, bad and indifferent. In this case, it’s a good (a very very very good) thing that is ending in the form of our almost month-long vacation. Ahhhhh. So, here I sit, enjoying a cup of coffee, lubricating my brain and my finger tips and watching the waves on the Isle of Wight Bay at our friends Monty & Sara’s.

It seems the weather changed over night from hot and somewhat muggy to cool and glorious. The breeze is perfection, the color of the sky just right, the feel in the air is early autumn. Fall has officially regained it’s position as my favorite season. It was bumped temporarily as I grew to crave summers in Colorado but after this wildfire season, fall is back on top. So thanks, fall, for showing up. I hear the final percolating exhale of the coffee pot signaling the arrival of more magma. I will rise for that right now but not much else. With mug in hand, I am ready. For something. For the next moment, at least. So, what am I really ready for?

Thoughts swirl through my head. We return to Colorado still without a plan. Things are brewing and plans are emerging but now the layers upon which other layers depend are not clear still and our plans remain without definition.

As we outran Isaac up the coast of Florida, we stopped in historic St. Augustine for a night. Finding the town to be a real gem, albeit with one too many t-shirt shops, I was happy to see the sign of a “real” boutique flapping in the wind as we headed north. With enough time to make a retail therapy pitstop, we parked and wandered in to ‘360 Boutique’ and met the sassy proprietress Helena Kahan. Turns out, we had things in common. As I tried on outfits, David chatted and we learned that Helena lost her home, business and worldly possessions in Katrina. A bold woman, a fiery force, Helena continues to deal with the fallout and lack of resolution around her devastating loss. We swapped stories of the ins and outs of insurance dealings, the exhaustion of friends trying to (or choosing not to) support over such a long period, the changes in perspective about life, the ways we thought we were better people for it all. We bonded like only those who share common peril do. We could laugh at the same things and cry a moment later.

Helena pulled her water-logged roots and moved away. Starting over in St Augustine, she is settling nicely with a lovely boutique yet still deals with the ups and downs of normal life. I will always remember her through my prized possessions purchased at her store but should those perish, I will remember her still.

We have heard bits and pieces from our neighbors about the continuing ordeal of coping with embers from the fire and the newly formed investigative commissions early findings. The rumblings seemed to indicate it is not going in our favor. It’s been very nice to not be on the front lines. I wish a respite for all my neighbors. We needed a break, needed not to worry and wonder about what the State will do, needed to stop the questions: Will they shirk responsibly, really? Will our claims ever get settled? and on and on… I will re-emerge into that ever so slowly. Catch up on the flurry of emails slower still. I don’t really want to know – and we need to know to be informed and to take the next step, but right now, I don’t want to know. I want a few more days respite from the news.

So, what’s changed in me over the last 5 months? It’s a small course correction but one I can feel nonetheless. A bubble off plumb, to be precise. I had an opportunity to watch myself get hooked the other day – and then back off and do a complete shift. A situation arose, I did all the things I do when that particular interaction occurs (got mad, got upset, got sad, built a case) and then something else happened. First of all, I really really didn’t want to go down that age-old path. I felt the claws, the tentacles, the trap, the slippery slope – all of it. And, I let a peep of light of another option in the door. The more attention I paid that peep of light, the bigger it got. Then, I celebrated my victory and the peep grew even larger.

In the thick of the aftermath of the fire, I was so hair-trigger and thin skinned. I have always been sensitive but my sensitivity rose many notches to overtake and drown me at times. This vacation has smoothed me out. I am ready to join the living and yet I still am in the process. It is merely a new stage but one I hope to do with less turmoil. There are still quite a few areas of life that when I consider, I get tired at merely the thought. I discard the rising dismay that these areas that used to excite me and fill me with purpose.

Walking through fire is a reincarnation and I don’t know who I want to be at the end. I don’t want to know right now. And, most importantly, I don’t have to know. So here I sit wondering to what I return, and while writing this post, I receive messages from three of my dearest bestest back in Colorado. Ahhhhh the needed lifeline. They are why I return to our burned out mountain. They remind me of what matters most to me. I adore these women and they all call me home to them – not just figuratively but literally they reach through the airwaves and demand my return.

So, return I will. I claim my place to always be a bubble off plumb – in good ways and in less than ideal. I will enjoy my slight course correction and bask in that. I will let this experience continue to meld me into myself.

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10 Responses

  1. Greg says:

    Oh poor you! You’re just a sailor on the seas of life! How long were you just jaunting around for. . .a month. . . that sounds horrendous. I lament your travails, I’m torching my house (while I’m still in it) and just setting off on the Out of Plumb adventure tour. . .

    When is the next Author 101 boondoggle, I’m crashing it. . .

  2. Thank you for holding this space and allowing us to learn, grow, and gain from your experience.

    As I prepare to leave for Europe for 24 days, I feel the need to regroup as well. I will let go of my attachment to look good, know it all, and hold on to the past.

    Loving you. Sandy xx

  3. Sharon Scanlan says:

    Kristen,
    Well, I’ve missed you bunches but have felt some envy that you escaped the flurry (fury?) of all this commission stuff. As I mentioned, much is going on, yet really NOTHING is going on from the standpoint of receiving any help from the state…so life goes on…maybe not the way we’d like…When you’re ready to hear details, let me know. Btw, we’ve taken so many trees down, we just might be able to wave to each other if you walk a short distance east on your land!!
    lovyou,
    Sharon

  4. Brigette says:

    I’m so glad you had this time away to get a break from the madness. I can only imagine how nice it must of been. I’m supposed to get away the end of Sept but that is in jeopardy. I tell myself that even if the trip has to be cancelled I will take a long weekend and just get away because you can only take so much of all the stuff day in and day out.

  5. Brigette says:

    Thought you would relate to this. I’m outside and I hear helicopters so I start looking all over and spot them and they are helicopters with water baskets. Totally start panicking, looking for smoke plume, etc. Call sheriff’s dept and find out today is the first day they are dropping mulch on the burn area. Hmmm, guess you could say I’m a little reactive and on edge. :-)

  6. Father says:

    Will be glad to reconnect.Come and stay sometime,thou all.Love and ARF!

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